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17 Elephant facts you need to know

The African elephant (Loxodonta africana) is the largest land mammal in the world and one of nature’s great ecosystem engineers, being a major contributor to maintaining the balance between wooded and grass ecosystems. Here are 17 fascinating facts that you need to know.

Largest US safari club slams door shut on SA’s canned lion industry

The world’s largest hunting club, Safari Club International (SCI) has slammed the door shut on South Africa’s canned lion industry, announcing it will no longer allow captive-bred lion operators to advertise or market captive-bred lions (CBL) at its annual convention, and will reject all captive-bred lion entries for its record books.

Pangolin research in the Kalahari

Little is known about how pangolins might cope with the direct and indirect effects of a changing climate. A PhD researcher is therefore investigating the body temperature, diet, and activity patterns of free-living ground pangolins in a semi-arid environment in South Africa.

Opinion: Elephants damage only 1% of Hwange’s vegetation

One of the main motivations for killing elephants in Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe is the argument that they destroy the plants and this is accepted by many as a problem. Let’s discuss whether this argument is not just an excuse for proponents of culling to get more ivory for the ivory trade, or to justify higher quotas for nearby hunting areas.

Wild dogs vote with sneezes

Scientists studying wild dogs in Botswana have found members of this endangered species use sneezes to vote on when the pack will move off and start hunting.

Japan’s ivory market must close down, according to study

With China announcing that it would shut down all ivory trade by the end of this year, concerns have been raised that Japan’s failure to prevent illegal ivory exports will undermine China’s prospective ban and the efforts to end the global trafficking of elephant tusks.

Bees protect large trees from elephant impact

A study has found that hanging beehives containing African honeybees from the branches of marula trees protects these trees against elephant impact because the elephants avoid those trees.

Opinion: Hunting is sustainable (ab)use

None of the existing role players in conservation understand what is required to save Africa’s vanishing wilderness. The issue is just too broad and deep – and politically charged.

Snakebite season in Southern Africa

Many bites from deadly snakes are difficult to prevent as people accidentally stand on snakes, especially at night. But the snake that has been biting lots of people recently is the poorly-known stiletto snake, also known as the side-stabbing snake.

The elephant orphans of Zambia

The Elephant Orphanage Project provides a sanctuary for defenceless elephant calves, who are the victims of poaching, human conflict or occasionally natural abandonment. Under the age of two, young elephants are extremely vulnerable and very dependent. Most will not survive without both their mother’s care and her nutrient-rich milk.

Hluhluwe iMfolozi Park: Protecting the “birthplace of rhino”

Over the past few months, Hluhluwe iMfolozi Park (HiP) in KwaZulu-Natal – managed by conservation agency Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife – has been hard hit by a significant escalation in rhino poaching. Ezemvelo has subsequently been hard at work developing more effective anti-poaching and resource management strategies. In support of this, Peace Parks Foundation has committed an additional R10,6 million towards the implementation of advanced technology solutions in this sacred rhino protection area.

Fishing spiders: Small but deadly predators

A trip to Africa can sometimes provide unique sightings other than elephants, lions and antelopes. And extraordinary sightings such as a fishing spider feeding on a freshly captured Argus reed frog is one such example.

PHASA approves canned lion hunting, faces backlash

In a change of policy after earlier turning its back on the breeding and hunting of captive lions, the Professional Hunters’ Association of SA (PHASA) has now approved such practices. During their annual general meeting on 22 November, members voted to approve “the hunting of captive bred lions as a legitimate form of hunting”.

Opinion: The voice missing from the elephant trophy debate? Africans

People are likely to live with wildlife only when they have some realistic incentives to bear the costs of doing so. If wildlife doesn’t in one way or another form part of the livelihoods of people, it will inevitably make way for activities that do. For elephants, these incentives mean tourism and, yes, even trophy hunting.

South Africa’s top tourist attractions

If there was a checklist for the perfect travel destination, South Africa would tick most of the boxes. Famed for its amazing wildlife and landscapes, superb local cuisine, warm hospitality and great weather, (plus the added bonus that its affordable) it’s easy to understand why tourism is so big in South Africa.

Decoding Kruger’s ‘Elephant Management Plan’

The Kruger National Park is vast, at about 2 million hectares, and requires a thorough management strategy in order to ensure long term sustainability. Part of that strategy, The Elephant Management Plan – compiled by Kruger management and Scientific Service – is currently in force, and covers the period 2013 to 2022.

Opinion: Too many lions in Kunene

Whether tourism operators and armchair lion-lovers like it or not, there are now too many lions in some parts of the Kunene region. Trying to save the lions that are killing livestock, or harassing the farmers who kill them, including impounding their firearms, will not serve the interests of conservation in the region.

Spectacular sighting: White baboon spotted in Arusha

I was driving my three-door RAV4 on the road leading to the part of the national park called ‘small Serengeti’ with Mount Meru standing majestically in front of me while I watched the nearby giraffes, zebras, baboons and buffaloes, when a brilliant flash of white caught my eye!

Rhino horn: Recipes for disaster

In the middle of the sixth mass extinction, when 50% of the living species are at risk of extinction due to the ever growing, destructive human hands, the six rhinoceros species are at the tip of the pyramid, among the most endangered species on Earth.

Can carbon measuring save Tanzania’s forests?

Up until now I have never been involved in projects that mitigate climate change, however during my last expedition, I had the opportunity to spend some time exploring the greater Mahale ecosystem and Carbon Tanzania’s newest project site.

Kruger: Is this the technological future?

Presently, we are able to instantly globally share everything we see and hear in Kruger and just about every other destination on earth. Animal sightings and locations are given in real time and we are able to send photos and videos across a host of social media platforms.

Water for Elephants

There is a crisis of elephantine proportions playing out in the dry sandy Kalahari woodlands of eastern Botswana, and a determined family of caring people is caught in the middle of the drama. A friend and I spent a few days with them in September this year and came away determined to help. I hope that …

Opinion: Are Maasai cattle to blame for overgrazing in Tanzania?

Living with the Maasai has taught me that conservation is not only about animals but is just as much about us humans; that to preserve any one place we have to be mindful of the local communities that live within it and try to understand the way they view the world to be able to work alongside them to protect mother nature.

Elephant ivory and the Japanese hanko stamp

Hanko stamps are the Japanese version of a signature, used throughout Japan to sign deals and important documents, and are made out of a variety of materials, including elephant ivory.

Cape Town + bush safari combos

How does one exactly combine Cape Town’s summer splendours with a wild Big 5 bushveld safari? We provide four fantastic summer/autumn combos!

Marine flatworms: The butterflies of the sea

Labelled the butterflies of the sea, we often ask ourselves why are marine flatworms so vibrantly coloured? Is it simply that they can be, therefore they are? Or is there a deeper significance?

The wonderful world of nudibranchs

Nudibranchs (the naked gills) are molluscs, the flamboyant snails of the ocean. Their colours and shapes are stunning, and their multiple forms elegant and striking.

Dragon-like sungazer lizard in danger

Sungazer – it sounds like a cool name for a dragon, and even though these rare lizards look like the mighty dragons from “Game of Thrones”, the fire of their soul may be burned out permanently.

Dear John, our response to your rhino horn auction

Rhino farmer, John Hume, will be auctioning 500kgs of rhino horn online today (23 August 2017). He presents arguments for his rhino horn auction, which Dr Simon Morgan – co-founder of Wildlife ACT, debunks.

New life for elephants in Nyika National Park

In early August, 34 elephants were translocated from Liwonde National Park to Nyika National Park, Malawi, in an effort to bolster the viability of the resident herd and fast-track recovery of critical numbers.

R.I.P Giraneza, the silverback gorilla

One of this year’s Photographer of the Year 2017 entrants, Nelis Wolmarans, shared with us a sombre update on the subject of the photo that got him a place in the competition finals: the silverback gorilla, Giraneza.

Lion farmers in South Africa threaten big cats worldwide

South African lion farmers are supplying large volumes of lion bone, teeth and claws as ‘tiger parts’ to an insatiable Asian market – says a report recently published by the Environmental Investigation Agency. South Africa is the world’s largest exporter of lion body parts.